“There’s a certain Slant of light”*

by chuckofish

Today is Emily Dickinson’s birthday!

emily-dickinsonEmily lived her whole life (December 10, 1830 – May 15, 1886) in Amherst, Massachusetts. She lived in this beautiful house, called by her family “The Homestead”.

emily's home

She had a room of her own, and for Emily, this seems to have been enough. She also had her family and she did not lack for friends. She may have seemed “eccentric” to some, but plenty of people thought she was pretty cool. If she was mysterious back in her day, she is increasingly misunderstood now.

The Emily Dickinson Home, a National Historic Landmark, is located at 280 Main St. in Amherst, MA. Although I lived in the vicinity during my college years, I never visited the house. I saw it, but never went inside. The property, which is now owned by Amherst College, is a museum and is open to the public for guided tours March through December. It is definitely on my “to do/see” list.

So tonight let’s toast Emily and read a few of her poems. Here’s a good one for a winter afternoon:

There’s a certain Slant of light,
Winter Afternoons –
That oppresses, like the Heft
Of Cathedral Tunes –
Heavenly Hurt, it gives us –
We can find no scar,
But internal difference –
Where the Meanings, are –
None may teach it – Any –
‘Tis the seal Despair –
An imperial affliction
Sent us of the Air –
When it comes, the Landscape listens –
Shadows – hold their breath –
When it goes, ’tis like the Distance
On the look of Death –